Brighton manager surprised by injured Mitoma’s Asian Cup call-up

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Brighton manager surprised by injured Mitoma's Asian Cup call-up

The boss of Brighton & Hove Albion, Roberto De Zerbi, was shocked when Kaoru Mitoma was called up to the Japan team for the Asian Cup because the winger was supposed to be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury.

Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu has named Mitoma to his final team for the Asian Cup in Qatar. The tournament runs from January 12 to February 10.

The 26-year-old forward hasn’t played for Brighton since he left with an injury in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on December 21. De Zerbi wasn’t sure if the forward would be able to play in Qatar.

The medical staff told me that Mitoma would need four to six weeks to heal, which surprised De Zerbi. He told media on Monday, before their trip to West Ham United.

“It’s hard for me to believe he can play in the Asian Cup.” But I really like Mitoma and all of my players, so if they get to play for their country, I’ll be very proud and happy.

Japan wants to win the Asian Cup a record-setting fifth time. They have already won it four times, in 1992, 2000, and 2011. They will play their first game on January 14 against Vietnam. In Group D, they will also play Iraq and Indonesia.

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